Visit to Ireland coincided with Apple announcing a major expansion of its operations in the country; new Cork campus will provide an additional 1,000 jobs
To coincide with Apple announcing a major expansion of its operations in the Republic of Ireland, its Chief Executive, Tim Cook visited Trinity College Dublin on Wednesday and addressed students.
‘Apple is proud to call Ireland home,’ the Irish Independent reports Cook as saying at a packed event organised by the Philosophical Society. Cook was awarded the society’s Gold Medal, making him an honorary patron.
‘We don’t see ourselves as just a company that is in Ireland, we see ourselves rooted here.
‘This country has championed the cause of LGBT people around the world.
‘It has also been a leader in the fight for human rights and has stood up for freedom of expression on the internet. Ireland shares our values of tolerance, diversity and equal rights both inside and outside the workplace.’
Cook publicly came out as gay in November 2014, and he told students about his own experiences as standing up as an LGBT person.
‘I saw kids being bullied at school and people being fired at work because they were gay.
‘I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something. There would be no donation that could match standing up and saying that I am proud to be gay and that it is one of the greatest gifts that God gave me.
‘I think we need more people who will do that. It’s the single most important thing that they can do.’
He emphasized the importance of diversity and said that, ‘the best companies of the future will be diverse.’
Apple is the largest private employer in Cork, and its expansion there will create a further 1,000 jobs in the region by mid 2017.
This will bring the total number of Apple employees in Cork to approximately 6,000; around a quarter of its European staff.
Some commentators have suggested that Apple’s commitment to Ireland may not be purely down to its stance on diversity.
The company’s announcement that it was expanding its base in Cork comes while EU regulators investigate whether the Irish government’s tax deal with Apple side-stepped international tax rules.
Ireland has been accused of allowing Apple – the biggest company in the world – to keep tens of billions of pounds worth of profits in return for maintaining jobs in the country.
A ruling is expected after Christmas.
However, during his Ireland visit, Cook re-asserted his commitment to the country regardless of the EU ruling and expressed confidence that the investigation would find that no ‘special’ deals had been struck.
In an interview with national broadcaster RTÉ, he was asked if Apple might scale back its operations in the country if the EU decision led to the company having to pay more tax.
‘You can tell by our announcement today, we’re all in,’ he replied. ‘If there is an adverse ruling, we’re going to appeal, Ireland is going to appeal and we’re going to support them because there was no special deal, no special arrangement.
‘I can’t say for sure what they’ll come back with but what I do know for sure is if the evidence is viewed on a fair basis, I believe strongly that it will be found that there is nothing wrong done.’